NPR Objects To Twitter’s “State-Affiliated Media” Label

NPR is objecting to Twitter’s decision to label the network “state-affiliated media,” calling the move by the Elon Musk-owned platform “unacceptable.”

In a statement, NPR President and CEO John Lansing said, “We were disturbed to see last night that Twitter has labeled NPR as ‘state-affiliated media,’ a description that, per Twitter’s own guidelines, does not apply to NPR. NPR and our member stations are supported by millions of listeners who depend on us for independent, fact-based journalism we provide.”

When Twitter slaps a label on such accounts, it does not amplify them or recommend them to people, potentially impacting its online traffic.

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He added, “NPR stands for freedom of speech and holding the powerful accountable. It is unacceptable for Twitter to label us this way. A vigorous free press is essential to the health of our democracy.”

Twitter’s own guidelines say that the “state-affiliated media” label is for “outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution.”

NPR is an independent non profit news organization that does get some government funding through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, but says that less than 1% of its operating budget comes from federal sources. Its member stations, which pay programming fees to NPR, do receive CPB grants, as well as listener contributions, corporate sponsorships and foundation grants.

By contrast, Voice of America, which is funded by the U.S. government through the U.S. Agency for Global Media, does not have the label. It also has editorial independence by a 1994 statute that prohibits government officials interference in editorial decisions.

NPR appears to fall into a category of news organization defined in the Twitter policy. “State-financed media organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the UK for example, are not defined as state-affiliated media for the purposes of this policy,” the policy states. The policy previously singled out NPR as an example of those outlets that are not defined as “state-affiliated media,” but the network’s name was removed.

Musk has also been removing some news outlets’ blue check marks that have declined to pay for a new subscription verification service, such as The New York Times. He responded to the NPR label in a tweet on Tuesday, writing, “Seems accurate.”

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